Workforce Essentials: Aerospace giant and community college help fill regional workforce gap

580 200 Leah Grassini Moehle

VIDEO: How SoCal partnership aims to build ready-made workforce for Northrop Grumman

A high-flying example of a large employer bulking up its workforce pipeline by working with a nearby college is finding success in Southern California.

A program in the Antelope Valley that is helping fill a need for thousands of trained workers required in large part because of Northrop Grumman winning a large Department of Defense contract to build aircraft in Palmdale and also because of older workers retiring.

The partnership is profiled in our latest video and is also one of three winners of the California Economic Summit's Partnership for Industry and Education (PIE) contest. 

Representing Northrop Grumman at the Summit was Manufacturing Manager Orville Dothage. In the video above, Dothage talks about how the company is collaborating with a community college and other local partners to fill their need for workers to fill good-paying aircraft technician jobs in Los Angeles County.

See all of the winners of the PIE Contest and read about more California partnerships like them in our 2017 Partnership for Industry and Education report.


Attendees at the 2017 California Economic Summit discussing workforce strategies (Photo Credit: Violeta Vaqueiro/CA Fwd)

What's inside a better Business Engagement Ecosystem?

Employers in California have found it extremely challenging to find and hire talent. Often this is due to skill or knowledge shortages among job applicants, especially with middle-skill workers. It's estimated California will need more than one million workers over the next decade with middle-skills certifications and more than one million more bachelor's degrees awarded to fill job openings.

Because the availability of skilled labor is essential to growth, businesses benefit from having an “ecosystem” in which there are organizations with responsibility to build up the current and future workforce pipeline. Public agencies and businesses' engagement with them within the workforce development system play a big role in these ecosystems.

To help build a better engagement ecosystem, a new paper details strategies for California policymakers, businesses, and workforce entities to consider as they continue to build a 21st-century workforce system. Business U, California Forward, and the California Economic Summit teamed up to craft the report in advance of the 2017 California Economic Summit.

The paper examines specific partnerships and investments such as the California Community Colleges' Strong Workforce Program — examples of the work to create a more adaptable and responsive system that can align education with labor market needs.

“The report identifies strategies for consideration to create a business engagement ecosystem to ensure a coordinated, regional approach by partner agencies to align outcomes with business and industry needs, resulting in expanded opportunities for job seekers and students,” said Business U’s CEO/Co-founder, Dr. Christine Bosworth.

“While there are pockets of business engagement success across the state, employer engagement in workforce and education initiatives reported as low as 28 percent in California,” said Celina Shands, co-founder of Business U. “The report takes a look at workforce issues from the employer perspective and the opportunities that workforce and education stakeholders have in creating a more coordinated and responsive system to solve the broad issues of businesses to help them grow.”

California has a number of regional homegrown strategies (see Appendix A in the paper) that promote the positive return when industry and education work together. The following recommendations are strategies to support workforce development and serve the needs of industry more effectively:

  1. Have California’s high-growth sector businesses identify demand-side measures that would be of high value if they were to engage with education and workforce initiatives.
  2. Create state-level and regional cross-agency teams between workforce and education to identify strategies, funding streams, resources that can be leveraged across organizations…

Read the rest in “Investing in a Business Engagement Ecosystem

Stories from the Summit: Didn't get to attend the 2017 California Economic Summit? Catch the opening video and more coverage from the big event.

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Leah Grassini Moehle

All stories by: Leah Grassini Moehle